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                               WESTERN SAMOA  PART 1

August /04 - September 14/04

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We had another good 4 day passage from Suvarov to Samoa, accompanied by Endless, Marv and Donna. The weather was wonderful, hot during the day with clear night skies, a bright moon lighting our way. We were able to run with our spinnaker most of the way and were treated to meteor showers on several nights.

August 27/04

WOW!! It's our Anniversary. We have been cruising for 1 Year. In some ways it seems to have gone by very quickly. In other ways when I think back to some of our adventures down the US Coast and in Mexico it seems like such a long, long time ago. So much has happened during this past year, adventures that have brought us lots of new experiences, elated and wondrous times, along with many challenges too, that stress the strength of our relationship and tackled our physical and emotiona2004_0818_214513AA.jpg (18251 bytes)l abilities to cope with the reality of a arduous way of life that can make daily sustenance definitely very hard work. 

So here we are, 1 year and 10,000 miles later (average speed 8 miles per hour!)  arriving in Western Samoa. A year ago the image of the South Pacific was hard to fathom in it's remoteness and cultural affinity. We have had the opportunity to encounter diverse lifestyles and insights into fascinating cultures that are bound to have a lasting impact on our own personalities.


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We arrived in Apia Harbour which was a flurry of activity with canoes and longboats rowing by all around us. We were instructed to tie up alongside the tugboats at the wharf in preparation for check in. We picked a very busy day as there were also 6 other boats checking in at the same time. Our first officialdom was the Samoan Port Captain who was friendly and efficient. Shortly thereafter we were visited by Customs and Agriculture. There was some question as to whether the Customs officer found our papers to be in order and he seemed to stall and at a definite quandary to make his decision to stamp us in or not. So he decided to search the boat. He quickly honed in on  our collection of DVD's. We offered him one of the more popular titles and he immediately decided that our papers were in order after all!

Our final visit was from Immigration, who gave us our first insight into the typical attire worn by Samoans. Donning a heavy long brown skirt and long sleeve dress shirt, he had no trouble hopping over our lifelines.


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Samoa 001.jpg (16826 bytes)We anchored in the harbour and were wondering what the strange approaching drumming noise we heard was. It was soon apparent that the beat was coming from a number of very long canoes that paddled around the anchorage, right past the boat. The longboats are about 100 feet in length, powered by 50 macho guys paddling like crazy, a helmsman with a whistle and the drummer that keeps up the tempo. 


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The following morning we headed to town, which was about a kilometre walk from the dinghy dock. The town was very clean and the people extremely friendly.  Apia is a lot more modern than I expected with paved streets and new automobiles. Not a lot in the way of stores and services but Apia does have it's downtown market with vegetables, fruits and fish, along with Samoan handicrafts.


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ISLAND TOUR
We rented a car for a couple of days to tour the island and to visit the villages. We found the island of Samoa really interesting. They have really maintained their culture and tradition more so than anywhere else we have been. 

The houses consist of open air fales, no walls, doors or windows. Just a corrugated tin roof supported by poles and raised off the ground, usually by a rock & cement bed. Some fales had Spartan furniture, some had none, and everywhere people were seen sitting or sleeping on the floor, or congregated in groups, the men conversing or playing cards, the women weaving baskets or busying themselves with some activity. There were kids everywhere, definitely outnumbering the adults. Cricket and volleyball seemed to be the favoured pastime and often the whole family participated, grandma included.
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Gord poses as Prince Neptune with a woven basket on his head.


Our first stop was at the College of Theology where a temple from the 1800's stood majestically on the grounds. Below it was Piula Cave Pool. The natural fresh water pool was very inviting, although vigorously cold when we first got in. A swim to the back of the cave led to a connecting cave, accessible by swimming through an opening under the water.
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Marv & Gord doing what they do best

We stopped for a drink at a little restaurant overlooking the ocean where you could rent a simple fale on the beach (consisting of a floor and roof but not much more) with meals for $25/day.

Samoa 072.jpg (22703 bytes)We came upon a beautiful beach along the way and some Samoan boys gave Donna the opportunity to try her hand at cracking a coconut. Maybe with some more practice.....The beach was very beautiful, no one there that day.
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The entire island was very lush and beautiful, groomed and very clean.

We stumbled upon some very remote villages and the kids came running over to the car to talk to us (and practise their English, I think). Everywhere we went, people stopped whatever they were doing to wave...it was so amazing how friendly these Samoan people are.

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After following a road that seemed no more than a goat trail, we came to an out of the way beach front bar where we met the High Chief of one of the villages. He was running the little resort and he spent a long time talking to us, giving us a great insight on the Samoan way of life. He even proudly displayed his tattoo, which was done in the traditional method using sharpened sticks and pounding ink into the skin. It took three days and was very painful. It is the mark of a good high chief to be brave enough to endure such pain.

The chief was anything but traditional in attitudes though and he played very loud American music in his bar and sported a pool table for his guests. Donna even got to dance with the High Chief but it was to the BeeGees under a disco ball...not exactly the impression one might conjure up.

We had a cool drink and a swim in the refreshing ocean, then explored the beach with it's lava tidal pools. Before we left we signed the wall of the bar leaving our imprint for others who follow. 


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FIRE DANCE PRACTICE

We were fortunate to arrive in Apia in time to take in the Teuila Festival named after the Red Ginger Plant, the national flower of Samoa. 

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2004_0905_014725AA.jpg (27316 bytes)We quickly got to know some of the friendly locals and were invited to the fire dance practices, in preparation for the Festival. These shows are put on by kids, some of which are very talented and hoping for a chance to win considerably sums of money at the upcoming Teuila competition. The show was actually a fund raiser for the competitors and mostly attended by the cruisers or visitors to Samoa.

 

Afterward, there was an impromptu jam session and Gord, along with a local guitarist, and cruisers on drums and bass, entertained the crowd.

PHOTO ALBUM OF SAMOA


NEXT>>>>continued.....SAMOA Part 2 >>>>

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